Retiring Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio)
Rep. Steven LaTourette (R) of Ohio is wrapping up his 18-year career, and as he heads for the exits, the congressman -- a Republican moderate by 2012 standards -- is sharing some interesting insights as he reflects on what's become of Capitol Hill.
For example, LaTourette chatted with Dave Weigel about his party's confusion about earmarks, his caucus' unfortunate preoccupation with abortion votes, and the mistaken impeachment crusade against President Clinton in 1998. But this was the quote that stood out for me:
"Between 1996 and 1998 you get welfare reform, you kick out a major highway bill. You get a lot of good work done, and it was because Bill Clinton was willing to triangulate the Democrats. He'd actually reach out and talk to us. This president doesn't work with us at all."
I hear this quite a bit from Republicans: President Obama just hasn't worked hard enough to reach out to, and work with, his GOP rivals in Congress. And every time I come across the argument, I desperately want Republicans to explain what in the world they're talking about.
Let's say it's 2009, you're President Obama, you ran on a platform of bringing people together, and you're serious about following through on this commitment. What would you do? Maybe you'd appoint Republicans to key positions in your administration; you'd reach out for regular face-to-face meetings with Republican lawmakers; and you'd incorporate Republican ideas into your proposals on health care, foreign policy, energy, immigration, and education.
Except, Obama did all of those things. It didn't work.
Indeed, it's been largely forgotten, but in November 2008, shortly after the election, the Weekly Standard ran a piece with a list of steps Obama could take to prove that he's serious about bipartisan governing. The president did virtually everything on the list.
"This president doesn't work with us at all"? As best as I can tell, Obama's at least tried. I'm not sure anyone can credibly say the same about LaTourette's fellow Republicans.